Tuesday, 25 September, 2018

Marriott, Delta in hot water with China

Shoppers look at their smartphones as they sit outside of a Zara store at a shopping mall in Beijing Friday Jan. 12 2018. Chinese regulators have rebuked fashion brand Zara Delta Air Lines and medical device maker Medtronic for calling Taiwan a countr Marriott Draws Fire Over Geography Slip-Up
Kenny Thornton | 13 January, 2018, 03:29

The outrage in China over USA hotel giant Marriott's gaffe in which it listed Tibet, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan as independent countries, has spread to a clutch of other well-known global brands as angry internet users sought to "expose" foreign businesses for not respecting Chinese sovereignty.

The Cyberspace Administration of China has blocked access to the Marriott hotel chain's website as punishment for geographical descriptions which challenge the People's Republic of China's sovereignty and territorial claims.

Marriott apologized profusely, saying it respects and supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China.

Caixin Global reports that Marriott's including Tibet in the drop-down list was particularly offensive to Weibo commenters as other brands from overseas have previously also listed Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau as "countries" in an English-language context.

Taiwan and the mainland split in 1949 after a civil war but the Communist Beijing government claims the island as its territory.

The Shanghai government said it had asked Marriott to "take down all relevant content, conduct a thorough check on all contents it posted on its website and online application to prevent anything similar, and address the public's concern in a timely fashion to eliminate a negative impact".

The statement said the company has corrected the improper actions and checked its websites and mobile apps for other possible errors and will fully cooperate with investigations launched by the Chinese authorities.

Zara added a three-sentence statement to its website expressing "sincere apologies" and said it would conduct a "self-examination". "We recognize the severity of the situation and sincerely apologize".

Met Eireann issues 'extensive and dense' fog warning for Limerick
Motorists are advised to take care on the roads this morning as an orange weather warning for fog remains in place until 10am. It will be windy and mostly cloudy elsewhere too with the rain spreading eastwards; some heavy rain is expected by dawn.

According to Wu Hai, a lawyer in Shanghai, it is a kind of advertising for Marriott to send questionnaires to its members through email.

The issue has not been confined to foreign companies.

Foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a regular briefing on Friday that Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and Tibet were all part of China.

The discoveries were shared across Chinese social media platforms, and internet users across the country expressed their displeasure.

"Marriott International respects and supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China".

"Unfortunately, twice this week, we had incidents that suggested the opposite", said Arne Sorenson, president and CEO of Marriott International in a statement.

Marriott's troubles should also drive home for foreign businesses operating in China or hoping to cater to Chinese tourists that understanding how Beijing understands history is key to not running afoul of the Chinese government.

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